EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 18, 2013

Rolling Stone cover draws heated response

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — Tyiana Clarke took one look at the August cover of Rolling Stone magazine and shook her head.

“That’s crazy,” the 23-year-old Methuen resident said. “I don’t think that should be on any newsstand.”

The magazine cover is a full-page image of the face of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The photo is part of an investigative profile on Tsarnaev, which is running in the issue. Tsarnaev faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, in connection with the attack April 15 that left three people dead and more than 260 wounded.

There was major backlash to the cover yesterday as many stores announced they would not be selling the magazine.

“CVS/pharmacy has decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect,” said a post on CVS’s Facebook page. “As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones.”

Tedeschi Food Shops, based out of Rockland, Mass., made a similar decision.

“Tedeschi Food Shops supports the need to share the news with everyone, but cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone,” the company posted on Facebook. “With that being said, we will not be carrying this issue of Rolling Stone. Music and terrorism don’t mix.”

The company also posted the cover on its Facebook page with a circle and a red line through the photo.

But outside Target and Market Basket in Salem, most thought the magazine shouldn’t be on the shelves at all.

“The only place his picture should be is in the obituary column,” said Bill Petrick, 72, of Lawrence.

Ann Cote of Sandown said her days of buying Rolling Stone were over.

“I think it’s disgusting and I will never pick up an issue of Rolling Stone again,” she said.

Rolling Stone responded to the critics with a statement yesterday afternoon.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families,” the statement said. “The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”

David MacLean, operations manager for Market Basket, said employees were instructed to pull it the issue off store shelves if they saw it there.

“Another company stocks our magazine shelves,” MacLean said. “We told our employees to keep an eye out for it and to give it back to the delivery people if they saw it.”

Stop and Shop, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Shaw’s and Roche Bros. are among other companies who said they would not be selling the issue.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote a letter to Rolling Stone expressing his dismay with the cover.

“Your August 3 cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment,” he wrote. “It is ill-conceived, at best, and re-affirms a terrible message that destruction gains fame for killers and their ‘causes.’”

Jason Ingalls, 41, of Plaistow said Rolling Stone should change the cover before it hits newsstands.

“Just replace it with a different cover,” he said. “It’s disgusting. They are glorifying him.”

But not everyone thought the cover was inappropriate.

“While I understand that any family that was directly affected by the bombing might react with anger to any portrayal of Tsarnaev as anything less than a monster, I don’t think the Rolling Stone cover is particularly offensive,” University of New Hampshire journalism professor Andrew Murton said. “In fact, one very much like it appeared on the front page of the New York Times not too long ago, and there was no outrage to speak of.”

Murton said if he were the editor of the magazine, he would have produced a cover with two images.

“I think I would have split the cover with before and after photos, with the current photo on the left and, on the right, a photo of the haggard, desperate Tsarnaev just after he was arrested.”

Sue Eichen, 65, of Hampstead said she didn’t think the magazine was appropriate for the victims’ families.

“It’s rather sad,” she said. “I feel sorry for the families who have to see him displayed that way.”

But Kristine Wetmore, 21, of Methuen said the cover didn’t bother her too much.

“I don’t read magazines, so it isn’t a big deal to me,” said the student. “If he was on the cover of my organic chemistry book I may pay more attention.”

The magazine is scheduled to be released to newsstands tomorrow.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.